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A historic agreement was signed Thursday between the Interior Ministers of Israel and Ukraine, to create easier travel between the two countries.
After many years of hardships and difficulties to travelers between the two countries, Dnepr‘s Chief Rabbi Shmuel Kaminezki and President of the Dnieper Jewish community and philanthropist Gennadiy Bogolyubov worked to facilitate an agreement which will avoid the difficulties of the past.
The agreement, signed by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsene Abkov, took place at a ceremony at the Interior Ministry in Kiev.
The agreement signifies a significant change in policy between the two countries, which until now had led to many Israelis and Ukrainians being detained and imprisoned at the borders when entering and leaving Ukraine and Israel.
“We had serious problems on both sides, and today we are signing a historic document in which all the problems and failures will belong to the past and will be history,” said Minister Abkov.
“From now on, everything will be done that there will be no problems and if we do, we will undertake to talk and solve it. There is a great friendship between us and it must continue. I want to thank the teams who worked for weeks to reach a signed agreement,” he said.
Minister Deri said at the ceremony: “There is a relationship of friendship between our two countries. We are very sorry for everything that happened, but now we look to the future. We have taken far-reaching steps to make it easier for those coming from Ukraine because of the importance of both countries and because there are hundreds of thousands who want to come to pray on the tombs of the righteous each year and we want their arrival to go smoothly.”
Deri thanked Rabbi Kamenetsky, Israel’s Ambassador to Ukraine Yoel Leon, Mr. Bogolubov and Prof. Mor Yosef for their efforts in achieving this agreement, and said that Israel will do everything they can to make sure the agreement is in operation in time for the upcoming Tishrei month, when tens of thousands travel from Israel to spend Rosh Hashana in Uman, Ukraine.
300,000 tourists traveled last year from Israel to Ukraine and 170,000 tourists traveled from Ukraine to Israel last year, the Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel said.
“If anything happens, I am at your service, but I am sure that there will be no mishaps. We will make sure there will be a large number of policemen throughout the New Year to maintain order,” Interior Minister Abkov.